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From Fiji Times Online (8 February 2008)
Rotuman link to Tui Labasa title
by Serafina Silaitoga
AS the dispute over the holder of the Tui Labasa title escalates, a woman claims the Rotuman blood link to the chiefly family was through the maternal and not the paternal side.
According to distant relative Faimanu Mua, her family has evidence and pictures of how the people of Malhaha in Rotuma traditionally welcomed Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma Ritova and Ratu Viliame Ritova, and descendant Rosarine, a woman of Rotuman chiefly rank.
A faction that appealed the Native Lands Commission decision that the chiefly title rightfully belonged to current holder Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma, had claimed at the NLC Appeals Tribunal hearing this week that the chiefly family had links to Rotuma through the paternal side.
But Ms Mua, whose aim was to clear the air on the issue, said that in the 1900s, her grandfather Gagaj Varomua' Muamea travelled to Fiji from Malhaha to learn to speak English and to return with his uncle Tukaha who had left the island to dive for pearls.
"My grandfather, while in Fiji, found himself a job as a sailor where they travelled to islands around the country delivering water," she said.
"On one of these trips, he was told of how a tafaga (Rotuman canoe) drifted towards Labasa and remained there."
The story goes that the natives of Labasa slaughtered everyone on the canoe except for a young woman called Rosarine and her elderly father.
Ms Mua said when her grandfather Gagaj Muamea heard about this, he travelled to Labasa and asked to be taken to Naseakula Village where he found Rosarine.
"But by this time, her name had changed to Losalini and she was old and she told my grandfather their sad story and that she was married to the Tui Labasa's son at that time," she said. "My grandfather promised to return to the village to take her to Rotuma but when he returned in the 1920s, Losalini had died and her two children Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma Ritova and Ratu Viliame Ritova were there.
"These two then came to Rotuma and were accorded full traditional ceremonies and my mum still has pictures of that function when Adi Tui and Ratu Viliame as they are known to the people of Malhaha, visited the village."
Ms Mua said the two were taken to Malhaha by the people of Naseakula, some of whom remained in Malhaha where they found jobs at the copra plantation of Ono and Gasta.
"I know that some people in Naseakula Village will still remember this and in the 1960s, my mum, who is still alive and 94 years old, attended the funeral of Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma Ritova at Naseakula Village."